Sunday, March 23, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Punjab Budget to be mix of sops, taxes
P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 22
When the Punjab Finance Minister, Mr Lal Singh, presents his second Budget to the Vidhan Sabha on Monday, more than the common man, the happiest will be the law-makers themselves — MLAs. Because, when the Cabinet approves the Budget on Monday morning, it will also stamp a substantial hike in the allowances of MLAs, which would mean an additional annual burden of about Rs 20 crore on the exchequer.

Each MLA has a government vehicle and is allowed 500 litres of petrol free per month. Yet, they are effecting a hike from Rs 4 per km to Rs 6 per km for use of their private vehicles. Reports say that a majority of MLAs use government vehicles but allegedly claim reimbursement for private vehicles. There is now a proposal to give government vehicles to members of Parliament as well.

The MLAs are increasing their pension to Rs 5,000 per month, effecting a hike in their constituency, correspondence, compensatory, sumptuary and other allowances, besides raising the limit of loans — house building or car loans —availed of by them. Enquiries with the Vidhan Sabha have revealed that scores of MLAs are defaulters, owing more than Rs 6 crore. The MLAs have also proposed for themselves that rather than reimbursement of telephone and petrol bills, they be given lump sum money. This sum is now to be increased from Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh per annum, say sources.

Punjab is the only state which permits such luxury to its MLAs. Once the MLAs hike their perks, this will have a cascading effect as other officials similarly placed would also demand enhanced benefits.

Even as Mr Lal Singh does some hard explaining on giving more perks to his own tribe, he will continue with the reforms. The Budget may not be as harsh as was his first one. Though when the Finance Minister puts his hand into the pocket of the common man, he neither expected to burrow deep into it nor can be expected to pull out empty handed.

Indications are that the Budget will be pro-kisan and not anti-employee or anti-“man on the street”, in view of the impending general election in 2004. If proposed perks to the MLAs is any indication, it is apparent that the financial situation is not that hopeless. Still, Mr Lal Singh will have to sing the song of ‘’political consensus’’, as he announces new or enhanced taxes or promises to carry forward the economic and fiscal reform agenda, which would mean more hard decision-making, say sources.

There is, however, a silver lining. The current financial year may close with a lower revenue/fiscal deficit as also with an increase in the revenue receipts and reduction in the non-productive expenditure. Thus, a series of sops or concessions cannot be ruled out even as a dose of taxes is administered. The Budget would also unfold the commitments made by the government to the farmers who thereafter, lifted their dharna from Patiala and Chandigarh.

Thus, there will be political justification to appease the kisan for whose benefit Section 67-A of the Cooperative Act would be deleted. It allows recovery of outstanding agricultural loan as part of the land revenue; a gift of the Akalis in 1978.

The government will not restore ‘’free’’ power and water. The farmers were explained the consequences of that ‘’free’’ facility and convinced that as a result Punjab has now submitted projects worth Rs 817 crore to the World Bank. A majority of the schemes pertain to rural development.

The Budget will also present the action-taken report on the reforms and medium-term fiscal programme initiated last year.

Though the Budget has been crafted on the Central Budget pattern, Mr Lal Singh will express his concerns on issues related to the Centre, including decreasing share of Punjab in the divisible pool of Central taxes from 1.7 per cent during the Ninth Finance Commission to 1.14 per cent during the Eleventh Finance Commission or new industrial policy for hill states.

However, much of what was proposed in respect of disciplining the public sector undertakings (PSU), unlocking the assets in them or disinvestment, etc. had not progressed as envisaged. A total of Rs 8,430 crore is locked up in 29 PSUs and nine apex cooperative institutions, resulting in a cumulative dividend of a mere Rs 8.4 crore as on March 31, 2001.

One wonders how the state will effect additional resource mobilisation to fund the Annual Plan (2003-04) of Rs 3,200 crore in an election year. One can, however, expect Mr Lal Singh to reiterate that focus in 2003-04 will be on development, infrastructure, power sector reforms, disinvestment, diversification in agriculture, rejuvenating industry, checking the depleting water table, administrative restructuring, more powers to panchayats and municipalities, employment and of course blaming the Centre for the huge debt burden and even state’s own debt stock etc.


Cong man is Malerkotla MC president
Tribune Reporters

Malerkotla, March 22
Ms Bholi, Congress municipal councillor from Ward Number 5, was today elected president of the local municipal council. He was backed by 12 Congress concillors and nine independents. Mr Balwinder Singh, councillor from Ward number 6, has been elected Vice-President of the council.

Mr Pardeep Kumar Sabharwal, SDM, who supervised the election also administered the oath to all 27 elected councillors at a meeting of the council.

Mr Shamshad Khan, councillor from Ward Number 27, proposed her name for the post of President, which was seconded by Mohammed Khalil, councillor from Ward Number 12.

Although no political party got a clear-cut majority of 14 votes in the council, yet Ms Bholi succeeded in becoming the chief of the municipal council.

GURDASPUR: Mr Prem Sagar and Ms Sunita Rani, both of the Congress were elected president and vice-president of the Dera Baba Nanak Municipal Committee unanimously for which elections were held on Saturday. The municipal committee of Dera Baba Nanak has 11 members all of whom belong to the Congress because the SAD-BJP alliance boycotted the municipal poll which were held on March 9.

Meanwhile, the elections to the post of President and Vice-President of the municipal committee, Gurdaspur which were to be held on Saturday had been postponed to March 25 because notice could not be served to all members of the committee on time.

MOGA: Mr Joginder Pal Jain was elected unopposed the president of the Moga Municipal Council on Saturday.

Mr Jain, who held the office of the Chairman of Moga Improvement Trust for eight years, had joined the Congress three days ago as leader of a group of 16 Independent councillors elected to the 31-strong House.

Mr Amarjit Singh Bhamba and Ms Satwant Kaur Ahluwalia were elected Senior Vice-President and Vice-President, thus leading to complete control of Congress in the council.

MANSA: Congress candidates were declared elected presidents of the three municipal councils of Mansa, Budhlada and Bareta in the district. Mr Bagirath Lal Garg, President Block Congress Committee, Mansa, was elected president of the local municipal council while Ms Amarjit Kaur of the Congress was elected Vice-President of the council. The elections were conducted by Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, here.

In Budhlada, Mr Subhash Singla of the Congress and Mr Ajay Kumar, Independent were unanimously elected President and Vice-President, respectively. Mr Harbant Singh Datewas, SAD (Badal) Budhlada MLA, who is also the ex-officio member of the council did not attend the election meeting. Mr Navtej Singh, SDM, Budhlada supervised the elections.

In Bareta, Ms Archana Kumari Sharma, of the Congress and Mr Ved Parkash Kulrian of the SAD (Badal) were elected President and Vice-President, respectively, of the council, Mr Harbant Singh Datewas, SAD (Badal) Budhlada MLA who is also an ex-officio member of the council attended the election meeting.

Mr Navtej Singh, SDM, Budhlada, supervised the elections. The election of the President and Vice-President of Sardulgarh Nagar Panchayat was postponed as Mr Sukhminder Singh, Assistant Commissioner (Grievances), Mansa could not attend the meeting on account of illness.

BATHINDA: Mr Ram Kumar, block unit president of the Congress, who had emerged victorious from Ward Number four of the Bhuchu Mandi municipal elections has been elected president of the muncipal body.

Mr Jeja Singh, who was elected councillor unopposed was also elected as Deputy President of the municipal body.

KAPURTHALA: Mr Sudesh Kumar Aggarwal, of the Congress was elected president of the local municipal council on Saturday.

In a direct contest by show of hands, Mr Sudesh Aggarwal secured the support of 14 councillors while his rival, Mr Sham Sunder Aggarwal, a BJP councillor got the support of nine councillors. A Congress municipal councillor, Mr Harjit Singh Jhaata, did not raise his hand in support of Congress nominee, Mr Aggarwal.

Mr Bakshish Singh Labha, also a Congress councillor, was elected vice-president of local municipal council. He secured 15 votes while his rival, Mr Sukhjit Singh, an Independent municipal councillor secured nine votes.


War brings scrap bomb fear to Mandi Gobindgarh
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Mandi Gobindgarh/Ludhiana, March 22
War in Iraq but scare in Mandi Gobindgarh and Ludhiana? Sounds out of place but to those who know the issue of live bombs in iron scrap, brought here for moulding from West Asia after the US-Iraq war in 1991, the fear of more such munitions reaching here looks imminent resulting in yet another series of loss of human lives and property.

Mandi Gobindgarh is Asia’s biggest market of scrap dealers. Scrap all over the world lands here for moulding. Hundreds of moulding units exist in Ludhiana also. Iron scrap of the World Trade Centre and Afghanistan war was imported here for moulding recently.

Much before that, scrap from West Asian countries, especially Kuwait and Iraq, also landed here. With the supply arrived thousands of unexploded bombs, with no strict sorting of the scrap, the bombs reached furnaces and exploded. The region is still suffering from the offshoot of the war. Every other week one or two bombs are found in these two cities and adjoining areas.

At least 20 persons, including 10 children, have died because of explosions so far. This is the official figure. But industry sources claim most of the incidents go unreported as industry owners suppress the incident using money power. Residents of Fatehgarh village near Mandi Gobindgarh had made scrap bombs an election issue in the Punjab Legislative Assembly election held last year. Certain industrialists dumped about 100 bombs in the village pond, which gave villagers sleepless nights. They had to wait for several months before the new government made arrangements to defuse the bombs.

The state and the Central governments have on several occasions confirmed that the bombs were coming in the scrap from West Asia. The Ludhiana district administration has gone on record saying it is helpless. A number of letters were written to the authorities concerned in New Delhi and the Airport Authority for measures to sort out the scrap. But nothing worked.

Fresh supply of scrap will reach here within three or four months. Industrialists in Mandi Gobindgarh have already started discussing the issue. Mr Mohinder Gupta, owner of Gyan Casting and President of Furnace Owners Association, told TNS that they were planning to call an emergent meeting of industrialists to prepare themselves as well as to seek government intervention.

In the past industrialists had dumped huge stock of such bombs in Doraha Canal and its channels, village ponds, garbage dumps and in old parks. It was only later that these bombs were found stuck under a bridge. In 1996 a bridge near Katani Kalan village was damaged and five children died when these bombs exploded.

Even though more than a decade has passed since the previous war, the bombs surface even now. Yet another war has started. Scrap supply from West Asia comes regularly. It is in fact one of the major sources of scrap for industrialists here. The scrap coming from the war zone may contain bombs again.

Mr Gupta said after the last war it was made mandatory for the auctioning authority to give a war emergency certificate declaring that the scrap contained no material related to war.

He said at the Dhandari dry port also they had set up a committee that sorted out the material and any explosives found in the scrap were destroyed by the team. He said all these checks would make it impossible for a scrap bomb to reach the furnace.

Mr Gupta said the furnace owners would have to be vigilant after importing scrap from Iraq in the coming months. The industrialists could not say no to scrap from there as they were always facing a shortage of iron scrap to mould it into various forms.

Mr Sandeep Aggarwal, owner of Punjab Forgings and Agro Industries, said in countries like Dubai Indians were dealing in scrap and they were the ones who were auctioning the scrap to various dealers in Mandi Gobindgarh. He said industrialists were hopeful this time as the scrap was being sorted out and it was being sold under various categories.


PPCC to participate in Delhi rally
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 22
PPCC chief H.S. Hanspal today called upon the party leaders to take the programmes and policies of the party to the grassroots level to restore the earlier glory to the Congress Party. Mr Hanspal said this while presiding over a meeting of the presidents of the DCCs and the BCCs at Punjab Congress Bhavan here today. He added that the Punjab Congress would participate in the “desh bachao rally” at New Delhi on March 30.

Mr Hanumantha Rao, secretary, AICC, said that the purpose of such meetings being held in each state was to highlight the problems of farmers, women, youth and dalits at all levels and find solutions. The Indian National Congress was organising a big rally in New Delhi to raise the issues of farmers and traders, the rural and the urban folk and the downtrodden. He added that Congress President Sonia Gandhi was very keen for the redress of grievances of poor and marginal farmers who were under heavy debts.

Earlier, Mr Ram Pal Dhaipi, general secretary, PPCC, briefed the block presidents about the programmes of the party, which have to be taken to the grassroots level. Many block presidents appreciated the move of the Congress President to hold such meetings at the state and national levels. Speaking on the occasion, Ms Krishna Mittu, general secretary, Punjab Mahila Congress, highlighted the problems of women.

The meeting was also addressed by Ms Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder, former Union minister, Mr Avtar Singh Brar, Mr Brij Lal Goel, vice-presidents of the PPCC, Mr Jaspinder Singh, Mr Sukhdev Singh Shahbazpuri and Mr Parminder Singh, all general secretaries, and Mr Baldev Singh Kang, treasurer of the PPCC.


Families anxious for kin in Gulf

Jalandhar, March 22
With the Gulf War entering the third day, parents and relatives are worried about their near and dear ones who had gone to the Gulf nations, particularly to Kuwait to earn money so that back home their parents could lead a comfortable life.

A large number of young boys of the Doaba belt and other parts of the state are currently employed by multi-national companies, particularly those in the construction business in the Gulf countries. A majority of these youth are employed as labourers in Kuwait, Dubai, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries. The families of these young boys are remaining glued to the television screen to get first hand updates of the progress of the war and are praying that it would come to an end soon.

However, the most worried are the parents of those working in Kuwait and they have tried to contact their sons. While some have managed to establish contact many have not yet succeeded. A large number of families are trying frantically to contact their sons and relatives, particularly those in Kuwait.

Ram Asra of nearby Sufi village whose son Ravi is working as a labourer is a worried man. He tried to contact his son when he learnt about the attack on Iraq. He, however, managed to establish contact with his son yesterday and was told that a large number of Punjabis were “trapped” in Kuwait and are finding it difficult to leave the country because of the suspension of passenger flights.

Local resident Gian Singh Ahluwalia and his wife, too, are worried about their son Harinder, a mechanical engineer with a multi-national company in Kuwait. Gian Singh contacted his son on telephone yesterday and was told that the government there was taking adequate measures for their safety and they had even been provided masks in case Iraq uses chemical weapons.

Harinder told his father that his employers, too, had assured him and other Indians of their safety. In fact a number of those employed in Kuwait by various companies are bound by written contracts and would find it difficult to leave that country without the permission of these companies.

Mr Surinder Singh of Alipur village whose son Mohinder Singh, too, is in Kuwait had contacted his son yesterday and told him to return home. Likewise, Baldev Singh of Rehmanpur village, too, has asked his son to leave Kuwait as he was worried about his safety. Even the parents and relatives of those who are in Saudi Arabai and Dubai have contacted them to know about their safety.

The Non-Resident Indian (NRI) Sabha which has its headquarters here have established contact with their Gulf countries representative, Joginder Singh to inquire about the safety of the Punjabis in Kuwait and neighbouring countries. UNI


Akali unity still elusive: Tarlochan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 22
Worried over disunity in the Akali ranks, the Chairman of the National Minorities Commission, Mr Tarlochan Singh, came out with his own political thesis in this connection while speaking at a meet-the-Press programme at the Press Club here today.

“Disunited Akalis prove dangerous for the country. When divided, they start heading towards extremism. They make provocative statements to outdo one another in the Sikh competitive politics and all that goes against the interests of the country. So, unity in the Akali ranks will be in the national interest”, he said, when asked what happened to his efforts to bring about unity among the Akali ranks, especially between Mr Parkash Singh Badal and Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra.

“Nothing concrete has happened on the unity front yet”, he added. Mr Tarlochan Singh, who is apparently trying to expand the role of the commission by taking up issues concerning the Kashmiri Pandits who were ousted from Jammu and Kashmir following the spread of militancy there, said “We are questioned by people when we move out of Delhi as to what was being done by the commission in the case of the Kashmiri Pandits”.

The commission had even taken up the issue of about 30,000 Sikhs who were living in Kashmir without enjoying property rights. The Union Government was trying to work out a solution to the problems faced by Kashmiri Sikhs as well as Hindus and Sikhs, who have migrated from Afghanistan following a prolonged turbulence in that country. Afghani Sikhs could not be considered for NRI status because they were living for centuries in that country and had to move out because of a crisis there.

Mr Tarlochan Singh, quoting from the data available with the commission, said neither Muslims nor any other minority was responsible for the galloping population in the country. “It was false to conclude that any minority, especially Muslims, were responsible for the abnormal growth of population in the country”, he added. In fact, the growth of Sikh population was minimal in the country as compared to other communities.

He said at the moment only 16 Sikhs were detained under TADA and not 40,000 as was being claimed by a certain group of US Congressmen. The black list of Sikhs had come down to only 50 from several hundred. Nearly 20,000 to 30,000 Sikhs were living abroad illegally and the Union Government had directed its missions abroad, following the efforts initiated by the commission, to issue travel documents to all such Sikhs as and when they approach them.

Mr Tarlochan Singh said the commission was trying to modernise madrasas by taking various Muslim bodies into confidence. The Union Government had already agreed in principle to provide all possible grants in this regard. He said the commission had decided to conduct a survey in every state to enlist the problems of minority communities in all fields.

Talking about the Gujarat riots, he said hundreds of Muslims and Hindus lost their lives, but no serious effort was made either by the media or by any intellectual to discuss and debate the causes that led to the tragic situation.


Varsity fails to honour Punjabi scholar
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 22
Punjabi University has ‘ditched’ a Punjabi scholar, who was referred to as the “Bhisham Pitamah” of Punjabi language and study by its own Academic Council, by failing to honour him with a DLitt (honorous causa) at its recent convocation.

Prof Pritam Singh’s case for the grant of DLitt was taken up as the first item at the meeting of the Academic Council on December 31 last year. The Council was informed at the meeting that many intellectuals had informed the Vice-Chancellor of the capabilities of the scholar. The agenda item said it was unfortunate that Prof Pritam Singh had not been able to get the recognition due to him and the university would improve its own image by awarding the degree to the scholar.

Even though the agenda item said on the recommendations of the Vice-Chancellor and the Punjabi Department the honorary degree should be awarded to Prof Pritam Singh, the council made a peculiar recommendation stating “the members feel that the citation of Prof Pritam Singh should be prepared first”. Following this the case of Prof Pritam Singh was not recommended to the syndicate for award of the honorary degree even as it had not been rejected at any stage. Sources disclosed that all citations were prepared after a final decision of the award of the degree had been taken by the syndicate.

Sources said what apparently worked against the scholar was the publication of an article written by him in a Punjabi daily titled “Lipi da masla: VC De Dhian Hit” (The Issue of Script: For VC’s Attention). This article appeared two days before the meeting of the Academic Council and queered the pitch against him. Prof Pritam Singh in his article had stated that the adoption of the Devnagri script for Punjabi as suggested by the Vice-Chancellor at a seminar would be a retrogressive step. He had stated in the article that each script had its own historical and emotional value and going back to the Devnagri script for Punjabi could result in a communal flare up which was not advisable in a state like Punjab.

Prof Pritam Singh, when questioned on the issue, said he had been given to understand by those who had attended the Academic Council meeting that the item regarding the award of DLitt to him had been passed by the council. He said, however, it now appeared that the Vice-Chancellor did not like the article written by him on the language issue in a Punjabi weekly. He said this could be the only reason why the item was suppressed and not taken to the syndicate.

The 85-year-old scholar, who was the Head of the Departments of Persian and Punjabi in the Sikh National College, Lahore, from 1942 to 1947, besides being Principal of various colleges in Punjab and retiring as Professor and Head of the Guru Nanak Studies Department of GND University, Amritsar, in 1980, said he had not requested the university for the honour and did not need it at this stage of life. “As it is I was not going to use it along with my name,” he added.

Meanwhile the Punjabi University Registrar, Dr Param Bakshish Singh, said he did not know whether the council had taken a decision to award the degree to Prof Pritam Singh. Later, he said the minutes of the syndicate could not be traced by him as today was a holiday.

The Forum for Educational Action and Reform (FEAR) has, meanwhile, “condemned” the Punjabi University for “humiliating and ditching” Prof Pritam Singh by not conferring the degree on him even after securing his bio-data. The forum President, Dr Amarjit Singh Dhillon, said it was for the first time in the history of the varsity that the conferment of a DLitt (honorous causa) was scuttled at the last moment.


VHP ‘jagran yatra’ reaches Batala
Our Correspondent

Batala, March 22
The “jagran yatra” of the VHP reached here today. It was led by Swami Adhwatt Maharaj of Ayodhya.

He was accompanied by Mahant Ram Parkash Dass of “Datarpur-wale” and Sant Tarloki Nath from Punjab.

The yatra passed through Dera Road, Gandhi Chowk, City Road and Nehru Gate, Batala where many people of both communities (Hindu and Sikhs) welcomed the yatra.

Later, a public meeting was held at Kila Mandi which was addressed by various leaders.


10 hurt in Cong, BJP supporters’ clash
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, March 22
At least 10 family members and supporters of the Congress and the BJP were injured in a group clash around midnight today. Pawan (26), Vipan Kumar (28) both sons, Sapna (25) daughter of Ramesh Verma, BJP Councillor and president, BJP mandal, Fazilka, and Nirmal Verma (35), Saroj (35) and Madan Lal (49) were injured in the clash with Satya Rani (40), wife and Raj Rani (41), sister of Dharm Pal Gandhi, former Municipal Councillor of the Congress and Vidya Rani (50) and Ramesh Kumar (38), all residents of Gandhi Nagar.

Ramesh Verma of the BJP had contested the municipal council election against Dharm Pal Gandhi of the Congress on March 9.

There was considerable tension during the election due to which the result of the Ward No 6 was withheld. It was declared on the directive of the state Election Commission after four days in which Ramesh Verma was declared elected by a margin of 22 votes.

The rivalry between the two is quiet old as five years ago their wives had contested the election against each other. Now both factions are trading charges of initiating violence against each other. All injured including six women, have been admitted to the local civil hospital. The local police is investigating the case.


BSM drive
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, March 22
The Bahujan Samaj Morcha (BSM) has launched a special enrolment campaign in the state, holding district-level functions. It intends to enrol over a lakh members before the end of this year.


Dept decides to relocate liquor vends
Tribune News Service

Talwandi Sabo, March 22
The state excise and taxation authorities today decided not to open liquor vends in the holy city of Talwandi Sabo housing the Fifth Takht of Sikhs The auction for these vends was held here yesterday by the state excise and taxation authorities.

Mr M.S. Kundlas, Assistant Excise and Taxation Commissioner (AETC), Bathinda, while talking to TNS today pointed out that auction of liquor vends in Talwandi Sabo town and subsequent decision of not opening the same in the holy city was taken by the state excise and taxation authorities. He added that Excise and Taxation Commissioner, Mr Suresh Kumar, had informed him about the decision.

He said now there would be no liquor vends in this holy city. The location of three vends of country-made liquor, which were to be opened in the city from April 1, 2003, would be changed keeping in view the religious sanctity of the town.

Unmindful of the religious and historical sanctity of the town, the state excise and taxation authorities had decided to open three liquor vends in the town from April 1, 2003. An auction for the same was held here yesterday. Senior functionaries of the Excise and Taxation Department were also present at the auction.

Mr Kundlas, had claimed yesterday that three vends of country made liquor would be opened in the town in pockets which were out of “Lal Lakir”. A section of religious leaders had alleged that it was a clear cut move of the Congress Government to hurt Sikh sentiments. (A news report in this regard was published in The Tribune on March 22, 2003).

A cross section of excise and taxation officials had also pointed out that they were bound to implement the excise policy drafted by the state government. They said when the state government had approved the scheme of opening liquor vends in the city, they were left with no other option but to hold the auction. They added that the state government had taken this step to overcome the problem being caused to it by the reduction revenue collected from the liquor vends in other parts of the Bathinda district. The permission of district administration was also taken by the excise and taxation authorities for opening the liquor vends.

Three spots where the state Excise and Taxation Department authorities had decided to open the liquor vends and for which the auction had been held today, were at stone’s throw from Takht Damdama Sahib.


Auction of liquor vends put off
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 22
The Excise and Customs Commissioner in a last minute decision postponed the high profile liquor auction for Amritsar and Gurdaspur districts here today. The large number of liquor contractors from both the districts were disappointed when the state government officers decided to defer the auction without assigning any reason.

The spokesman of the liquor contractors based in Gurdaspur, Mr Sanjeev Kumar Malhan, alleged that the political-bigwigs in collaboration with the liquor cartel had used their clout to get the auction postponed at 5 p.m.

Mr Malhan alleged that the government had earlier also postponed the auction of vends in Jalandhar, Kapurthala and Hoshiarpur districts and was planning to help a particular group to gain monopoly in the entire majha and doaba regions. He added that they had offered to give six per cent increase in the Gurdaspur district and had also deposited drafts worth Rs 1.25 crore for the additional revenue for the coming financial year.


Seminar on folklore tradition, modernity
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 22
Meaning in any kind of folk literature lies in dialectical inter-relationship between anthropological and cosmological domains. Due to the tension inherent is such a dialectical inter-relation, folk literature is written both at level of real and surreal, said eminent linguist Dr Harjit Singh Gill, Professor Emeritus, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, in his keynote address at a two-day national seminar of “Folklore: tradition and modernity” organised by the School of Punjabi Studies, Guru Nanak Dev University, here yesterday.

Dr S. P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor, presided, over the inaugural session while Dr Satinder Singh, Pro Vice-Chancellor, inaugurated the function.

Dr Gill traced the understanding about literature and other forms of reality in ancient Buddhist traditions which flourished in India. “In order to comprehend meaning in a folklore text, the analyst must first of all unwind the given text only to rewind it in such a manner that the discourse of the text becomes manifest,” he explained.

Classes realist literature could only be found in medieval Punjab. He lamented that this type of literature the Punjabis had lost in modern times.

Dr S. P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor, speaking on the occasion, stressed on the need for introspection while attempting to analyse literary works and other kinds of social phenomenon. He said in order to re-integrate the new generation with our rich folklore traditions, the need was to preserve and scientifically analyse different aspects of Punjabi folklore.

The VC said the university would do its utmost to encourage research in this field and it had decided to establish folklore museum at its campus.

In his inaugural address, Dr Satinder Singh said because of sound conceptual base of the discipline of folklore, the university placed special emphasis on the study of folklore and even the Department of Punjabi had a special wing dedicated to folklore.


SGPC not to raise clemency issue with Kalam
Tribune News Service

Talwandi Sabo, March 22
The SGPC chief, Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, said today that the SGPC would neither raise an issue pertaining to seeking clemency for Prof Devinder Pal Singh Bhuller, who had been awarded a death sentence by a Delhi court in a bomb blast case, nor submit any representation to the President, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, during his visit to the Golden Temple, Amritsar, tomorrow.

Mr Badungar, who was here to preside over an award-giving ceremony organised by Takht Damdama Sahib, pointed out that Dr Kalam was coming to the Golden Temple as a devotee and hence it did not look nice on the part of the SGPC to raise the issue. The SGPC chief said apart from it, no other issue concerning the Sikhs would be raised.

Expressing his concern over US attack on Iraq and safety and security of Sikhs religious places in Baghdad, he said the SGPC had already written to the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, to make arrangements in this regard.

He said even the war could sabotage the plan of the SGPC to sent its jatha to Pakistan on Baisakhi. Prof Badungar said the SGPC was preparing to organise functions in Punjab, particularly in the Malwa region, to make the people aware about the activities of various “Rajas” of Patiala riyasat.

To a question regarding the setting up of a separate SGPC for Haryana, he said this committee was not relevant as the SGPC and the SAD had been trying for passing a bill pertaining to the All-India Gurdwara Act in Parliament. He said the SGPC had been imparting training to teachers for propagating the Gurmat and Gurbani free of cost.

He said the SGPC had also been ensuring the fact that character of any Jathedar of five Takhts should not be discussed in the public or in the media.

He said the SGPC was keeping a watch on the incidents of conversion of religion by the Sikhs to Christianity and added that he had also taken up the matter with both sects of Christians.

Earlier, Prof Badungar honoured those persons who had contributed to the cause of Sikhism.


Elaborate security for Kalam
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, March 22
The Punjab Police has made elaborate security arrangements for the proposed visit of Mr AJP Abdul Kalam, President of India, to Kharaudi village in Mahilpur block of Hoshiarpur district tomorrow.

A police spokesman told mediapersons here that Mr R.P. Mittal, DIG, Administration, had been deputed security in charge of the President at Kharaudi where Mr Kalam would reach at 11.20 a.m. by a helicopter.

Four SPs, including Mr Gurmeet Singh, officiating SSP, Hoshiarpur, would assist Mr Mittal Besides, 10 DSPs, 19 Inspectors, 70 NGOs and 700 policemen had been deputed for the security of the President.

According to official sources, Mr Kalam would first visit Government Elementary School of the village. Later, he would meet villagers including NRIs, in a village park. He would leave at 11.50 a.m.

Mr R.S. Sandhu, Commissioner, Jalandhar Division, convened a meeting of district officers, Hoshiarpur yesterday to review the arrangements. Later, along with Mr Kirandeep Singh Bhullar, Deputy Commissioner, Hoshiarpur, he visited Kharaudi and personally inspected the arrangements.


Students ‘forced’ to welcome President
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 22
Students of plus two and other classes who are to appear for their examinations on Monday have been called for rehersal, near the historical Jallianwala Bagh to accord welcome to Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, President, who will visit the holy city tomorrow.

Ms Laxmi Kanta Chawla, a former MLA, said the managements of various schools had told her that they had to bring the schoolchildren on the directives of the district administration, including the District Education Officer. They would line up on both sides of the route of the President tomorrow. She said the President, unlike his predecessors, would not like to see the children welcoming him at the time of examinations.

She asked Dr Kalam to issue directives to the authorities all over the country to stop such practice otherwise, the nation may not produce eminent scientists like Dr Kalam. She said it was great injustice to students and amounted to the violation of human rights.


Rs 1.25 lakh for student’s death
Our Correspondent

Mansa, March 22
The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Mansa, has got a compensation of Rs 1.25 lakh awarded to Mr Jasvir Singh and his wife Ms Rajinder Kaur for the death of their minor daughter, Beant Kaur, who had died to roof collapse at a model school in Budhlada. The forum also awarded Rs 500 as cost of litigation.

Beant Kaur (6) was a student of LKG at Sardar Arjan Singh Model School, Budhlada. On May 30, 2001 while the school was on, the roof of a classroom collapsed and Beant Kaur was seriously injured and succumbed to injuries later on.

The building of the school was old and in a dilapidated condition and the school authorities were found to be negligent in this regard as the school building was found to be unfit and unsafe for human habitation.

The forum has granted two months’ time to the school authorities to make the payment of amount of compensation. The district forum was presided over by Mr A.S. Narula, president of the forum, and its two members Ms Darshana Sharma and Mr Sarat Chander were present.


Exhibition train draws crowds
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 22
The exhibition train depicting the achievements of the Indian Railways during the past 150 years reached here today. Men, women and kids came in flocks to see the train.

Nearly 1 km long train had 12 watches and pictures, drawings, working models, audio-video clippings and touch-screen computers exhibited in the train which attracted many. The train also exhibited the first railway timetable released in 1853 in The Bombay Times and Journal of Commerce, history of the railways around the world and particularly in India.

Eight-year-old Nitika, who came with her father, Mr Krishan Kumar, felt elated when a 15-feet high air-filled ballon in the shape of an elephant, Bholu (The Guard), mascot of the Indian railways with lantern in his hand greeted her. Three touch-screen computers designed in the Kaun Banega Crorepati’s format attracted maximum crowd.

As per railway officials the first engine that moved on the Indian soil was a Thompson steam engine which measured 4.85 feet and was used near Roorkee in Uttar Pradesh. The officials added that the first train was flagged off by Lord Dalhousie on April 16, 1853. They said the only ‘zero gauge’ railway in India was set up by the then Maharaja of Patiala in 1907.


Mela special trains from today

Phagwara, March 22
The Northern Railways will run 12 mela special trains from Ferozepore to Hussainiwala tomorrow, the martyrdom day of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru.

Stating this, railway sources said here today that this train service would start from 6 am and special railway ticket booking counters would be opened at the mela site at Hussainiwala and Ferozepore railway stations. UNI


3 of a family end their lives
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, March 22
A case of suicide pact in which three members of a family of Motiana village ended their lives has been reported in Mahilpur police station last evening.

According to police sources, Mehna Singh, his wife Surjit Kaur, alias Jeeto, and son Dharminder of Motiana village committed suicide by consuming poisonous substance. The bodies have been sent to Civil Hospital, Garhshanker, for post-mortem examination. The cause behind the suicides is yet to be ascertained.

A case of torturing of a woman by her in-laws for money has been reported in the city police station today. According to the SHO Silpa Jain, daughter of Parmod Kumar Jain, of local Garhi Mohalla stated in her complaint that she was married with Sandip Jain, son of Bansi Lal of Tillu Talab, Jain Nagar Jammu, on November 25, 2001. She alleged that her husband, father-in-law, mother-in-law and brother-in-law had been torturing her, asking her to bring Rs 5 lakh from her parents for setting up business of her husband, Sandip Jain. The police has registered a case against all them.


IT officers told to pay Rs 10,000
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 22
Coming down heavily on the Income Tax authorities while pronouncing orders on a petition alleging the demand of bribe by officials for “not opening” a case, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has imposed costs of Rs 10,000 “to be paid personally in equal shares by an Assessing Officer and another officer who granted sanction” for going ahead in the matter.

The Bench, comprising Mr Justice N.K. Sodhi and Mr Justice N.K. Sud, also quashed a notice issued to the petitioner for reopening his case regarding income tax return for assessment year 1995-96.

In his petition, a Development Officer with the Life Insurance Corporation, Mr Mohinder Singh Malik, had alleged that Rs 40,000 were demanded by the officers for not reopening his case. Following his refusal to comply with the demand, a notice under Section 148 of the Income Tax Act for reopening the case was issued, according to the counsel.

He had claimed that the respondents were openly demanding bribe from the assessess and threatening them with heavy fine. He had added that “many more assessess had filed affidavits, but action had not been taken”. After hearing the arguments in the case, the Judges observed that according to the petitioner, notice under Section 148 of the Act could not be issued as the period prescribed had lapsed.


Two workers electrocuted
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, March 22
Two workers, Surinderpal, alias Shangu, 28, and Shakul Dev, 45, were today electrocuted at Madhopur village when the iron rod of a shuttering accidentally touched the high tension wire passing over the house. Another worker, Kashmiri Lal, sustained burn injuries. While Surinderpal was a resident of Samipur village in Jalandhar district, Shakul Dev of Bihar was presently residing in Madhopur village.

The bodies have been brought to the local Civil Hospital for a post-mortem.


Anti-US rally in Nawanshahr
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, March 22
Activists of the district unit of the CPI-ML (New Democracy) today organised a protest rally in the town against the US attack on Iraq. Mr Daljit Singh advocate, Ms Gurbaksh Kaur Sangha, Mr Kulwinder Singh Warraich, Mr Kamaljit Sanawa and Mr Surinder Bains, while addressing the rally flayed the USA for its ‘undemocratic’ attitude towards Iraq. They said all peace-loving countries should unite to thwart the nefarious designs of the USA under the guise of fighting worldwide terrorism.


Illicit relations lead to child’s murder
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 22
A man allegedly murdered a three-and-a-half-year-old son of his paramour, as he was against her illicit relations with her former paramour.

The child, Harpreet, who became the victim of illicit relations of her mother with two persons was allegedly kidnapped on March 17 and his body was recovered on March 18 from the fields of Dayalpura Mirza village. He was strangled.

With the arrest of Balwant Singh Ghukka last night, the mystery shrouding his death has been solved. Ghukka filled with rage when he learnt that Baljit, mother of victim, had not severed her alleged relations with Harpreet, alias Dhalli, of Dayalpura Mirza village. Ghukka allegedly kidnapped the child and murdered him. He threw it in the fields outside the village.


Sarpanch, panch held
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 22
The state vigilance authorities have arrested Baljit Kaur, sarpanch and Jit Singh, member panchayat, Burj Dalla village for embezzlement of Rs 2,32,520 from the funds given to the village for various development works.

Sources said the village panchayat had got many grants for the development of the village during the SAD-BJP government’s regime but the village had seen little development. The sources said an inquiry into the alleged bungling of funds was got conducted by the Sub Divisional Officer, Panchayati Raj Department, and it was established that the alleged culprits had swindled public money from the income of the village panchayat and the grants received.


Steps to curb copying in exams
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 22
The Punjab Education Department has decided to expose the “black sheep” involved in the promotion of copying in annual examinations in the countryside. A number of measures have been planned in this connection, according to highly placed sources in the department.

The first step will be to debar such officials from examination duty. The Punjab School Education Board authorities would be asked to submit a list of such teachers and other officials to the government for taking the necessary action. The board would also be asked to prepare an official website with regard to examinations and put the names of the officials debarred from examination duty on that site.

The district education officers and other concerned given the task of deputing teachers and other officials for examination duty would be made accountable with regard to menace of copying. “Already action had been taken against the DEO of Amritsar, Mr Gurpartap Singh Guri, who allegedly did not cooperate with the board authorities for curbing copying at certain centres in the border belt,” according to a senior officer of the Education Department.

The second step would be to sensitise teachers as well students against copying. A documentary would be exhibited in all schools in this connection.

Thirdly, incorrigible officials would be weeded out as far as conducting the annual examinations was concerned. They would not be given any assignment with regard to examinations, the official said.

Meanwhile, taking a bold step to curb copying, the Punjab Government yesterday suspended 57 officials who had been assigned the task of conducting the board examination of matriculation and plus 2 classes. Most of them are teachers.

The school board has cancelled papers of different subjects in the examination centres from where reports of en masse copying were received.

Informed officials sources told TNS that the suspended officials include superintendents, deputy superintendents and invigilators. Action against these officials has been taken on the basis of the report submitted by the board.

Among the examination centres of which certain staff have been suspended are Dera Baba Nanak 1 and 11, Wadala Granthia 1, Nabha VII and VIII, Dhuri I and II, and Morinda II.

Sources said that while approving the suspension, Education Minister Khushal Behl had written a note in this connection. He has reportedly commented that “these teachers and officials are not only slur on the Education Department but also a clear reflection of the moral degradation in the education system”. In fact, Mr Behl has directed the authorities to take strict action against officials involved in copying.


GND varsity passes Rs 61-cr budget
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 22
Guru Nanak Dev University today passed its budget of Rs 61.75 crore with a deficit of Rs 3.97 crore at a budget meeting of the Senate here today. Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor, while addressing the meeting said the Punjab Government had imposed a 10 per cent cut on the maintenance grant being given to the university. Mr R.L. Bhatia and Mr Balbir Singh, both MPs, assured the university authorities that the state government would consider the removal of 10 per cent cut on the maintenance grant. The Vice-Chancellor said the maintenance grant being provided by the government had been decreasing year after year. While the grant was 82.41 per cent in 1992-1993 it had dwindled down to 30.14 per cent this year. Whereas university’s own resources had risen from 14.75 per cent to 62.62 per cent this year.

The Vice-Chancellor said the normal maintenance grant from state was Rs 16.07 crore. In addition, he said the state government had been requested to provide grants for Namdhari Guru Ram Singh Chair, Guru Gobind Singh Chair and for job-oriented courses. The versity would spend 47.84 per cent of the grant on teaching, research and allied teaching, 17.28 per cent on administration; 5.62 per cent on examinations; 25.36 per cent on miscellaneous departments; 1.30 per cent on health services and 2.60 per cent on the construction of new buildings.

Mr Bhatla announced a grant of Rs 5 lakh for the expansion of the computer centre.

The university also announced to continue the nine Chairs even in the absence of the funds provided by the government.

The university plans to establish a heritage village this year at the cost of Rs 40 lakh.

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